Here in Victoria, BC, our local government is seeking to join Montreal in becoming another major Canadian city to establish a ban on single-use, plastic shopping bags.
Statistics have shown that Victoria residents each use approximately 200 bags each year which sums up to approximately 17 million bags per year for the entire city’s population. And what do we do with them after we bring them home? While many people do reuse and recycle these soft plastics, the truth is that the majority of these bags end up in our streets, in our ecosystems, or in our already overstuffed landfills.
Therefore, in an attempt to stop this pollution at its source, Victoria’s city council approved the motion to prohibit businesses from selling and distributing single-use plastic bags to customers.
Come the proposed date July 1, 2018, businesses may only be allowed to provide a checkout bag to customers if:
- The customer is first asked whether they need a bag; and
- The business provides a paper bag for the fee no less than 12 cents; or
- The business provides a reusable bag for no less than two dollars.
There are currently exceptions included in the draft bylaw for items such as meat, prescriptions and bulk items.
In a culture so reliant on conveniences, it’s understandable that changing our behaviours overnight is going to feel like pulling teeth. But with a little time and moderate effort, customers and business owners will adapt to our society’s much needed progress. To ease the transition, the City of Victoria suggests a few ideas for businesses to consider:
- Always ask, “Is a bag needed?” rather than assuming it is.
- Incentivize customers to bring their own bags by offering benefits.
- Set up a free, reusable bag exchange donation program.
As for customers, habits such as thinking ahead before we shop or have reusable bags stashed where they can be utilized on the go such as in our backpacks, purses or vehicles will soon be so commonplace that we will forget why we ever needed a plastic bag in the first place.
For those of you who would like to see your city join this progressive movement, talk to your city council, businesses and to other like-minded people because, as the City of Victoria is about to demonstrate, it’s clearly possible to ban single-use plastic bags. Your environment will thank you.
For many of us, it would be hard to imagine living our day to day lives without seeing or using a plastic bag. It almost seems inescapable, but what if it didn’t have to be?
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